Durban & Coastal Branch

GSSA Helping_visitorsThe Durban and Coastal Branch presently has 37 members all enjoying doing research on their families. Some have made great progress and have even published the results of their research. Many are having fun doing voluntary work for the Society creating more and easily accessable research information.
They volunteer and help with -  the transcription of the RSA 1984 Voter's roll; - the photographing of gravestones; - the transcription of cemetery registers. Our Branch completed the Stellawood cemetery registers (114 000 entries) which is now available on CD.
Recently our members completed an index of all marriages registered in Natal from 1845 to 1955 (421 874 names) which will be available on the internet soon. We have monthly get togethers on the second Saturday of each month which are held at the Durban Family History Centre where we have access to the wealth of research information it houses.   We often invite speakers on related subjects to address us.  

A Priceless Story

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Jimmy Boyce and his sister May searched for the grave of their father for years. Jimmy accessed the photographs on the eGGSA library and found a photograph that he thought could be that of his father. He immediately contacted May and they picked up the trail through the eGSSA and the GSSA. He sent an e-mail first to Alta of the eGGSA and then to Eleanor Garvie of the Durban an Coastal Branch of the GSSA. It was this branch that undertook the photographing of the Stellawood Cemetery. (Read the article below for more detail).

Jimmy writes:

We have been searching for my father's grave for years now and finally managed to find it thanks to your teams' efforts photographing the Stellawood cemetery gravestones. Just want you to know what a blessing your work is to us and so many more people out there. I was last there with my gran in 1987 when I still lived in Durban.

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Just a little information on the grave so that you can have an idea of how important the work that you are doing is. My grandfather, Susara P de Lange Boyce, died while at work one rainy day at the railways. A train had accidentally backed up and squashed him between an empty trailer. He was still alive and the police took my grandmother to him to say goodbye. When they moved the train away he immediately died from his injuries. He was the buried where he currently is. The other side of the book headstone was meant for my gran one day when she was to pass away. My father, DJJ Boyce, died 24 Sept 1974 while my mother was still pregnant with me. I was born 17 Dec 1974. His cause of death was that he had epilepsy and fell and drowned in the Durban harbor when he had a fit while fishing there. My gran therefore opted to put her son next to his father and gave up her rightful space.

So, you can now understand a little how each of those headstones and grave sites have a story to tell with many people like me that still want to sit and see the grave sometimes, but are in another province or country, so cannot just drive up the road to see it. Your photos are therefore a blessing to us, as it helps us feel closer to our lost loved ones.
You and the team are forever in my debt for your kind assistance and information.”

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Stellawood Gravestone Recording Update

img 0089Since the transcribing of the burial records of Stellawood was completed in 2011, the team which has undertaken to photograph the cemetery has been hard at work recording the headstones.

The project of photographing the headstones and any other memorial in the cemetery started in earnest one very hot December day in 2010. Alta Griffiths was down the South Coast on holiday and decided that she would join us on this venture. Altogether we were 18 eager photographers - however we did not realize that the task at hand was somewhat bigger than we thought. We are presently down to an attendance of about 8 photographers and would dearly love more people to consider joining the team. We have welcomed two new members this year; Rose McArthur and Gail Richards.

Stellawood Cemetery is just under a half square kilometre in size and if any of us thought we would finish photographing the cemetery in one day – we were certainly dreaming. Nevertheless, at each session the team embark on cleaning the headstones (as many are covered with lichen and other dirt) then dust and chalk those that lettering have faded before photographing can begin.

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